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Desire2Learn > D2L Essentials > Grades & Assessments

Grades & Assessments

Setting up your Gradebook

Students appreciate when faculty use the Grades tool in D2L because it allows them to track their progress in the course. You can connect grade items to Assignments, Quizzes, and Discussions, which allows your grading in the course to automatically flow to the gradebook.

Best Practices

  1. Set up grades first.
  2. It can be helpful to create all Grade Items first, before you create any Assignments/Quizzes/Discussions, so that they are available for you to select when building items in those other tools.

  3. Use the setup wizard.
  4. The first time you go to Grades, you'll be prompted to click through several steps to set up your gradebook. Some key settings to note:

    • Weighted vs. Points: If you have weighted percentages in your syllabus, choose the Weighted grade system; otherwise, choose Points. If you choose a Weighted grade system and you have grade categories (like a category for Quizzes that contains five quizzes), note that all of the items within a category will have to sum to 100% (so, each quiz would be worth 20% of the Quizzes category).
    • Calculated Final Grade vs. Adjusted Final Grade: Most faculty leave Adjusted Final Grade selected so that they can finalize grades before releasing them.
    • Drop Ungraded Items vs. Treat Ungraded Items as 0: Most faculty prefer to use Drop Ungraded Items, so that students don't see zeroes for all assignments in the gradebook. But, that means that you must enter in a 0 for missed assignments. If you don't want to do that, choose Treat Ungraded Items as 0.
    • Default Grade Scheme: By default, the Percentage grade scheme is selected. If you want to view this scheme, or make your own scheme to match your syllabus, you need to do that in the Schemes tool.
    • Decimals Displayed: 2 is fine.
    • Student View Display Options: Most faculty leave the default settings selected.

Guides and Tutorials

Recording Grades in the Gradebook

In Grades, you can enter scores for items that aren't connected to other tools in D2L (e.g., Assignments, Discussions, or Quizzes). For example, you could enter grades for participation, presentations, lab work, etc.

Best Practices

  1. Switch to "Spreadsheet View."
  2. When you first click Grades, click Switch to Spreadsheet view so that you can enter grades directly from this screen.

  3. Use the "Enter Grades" screen.
  4. On the Enter Grades screen, you can select all students, click Grade, and enter one score that will apply to all students. This is particularly useful for grade items where you want to assign one score to all and then edit the scores of the few students who received a different number of points.

  5. Leave feedback for students.
  6. On the Enter Grades screen, you can access the Feedback option, which allows you to leave text feedback for your students. If you're co-teaching a course, the Private Comments text box allows you to leave notes that only Instructors or TAs can see.

  7. Use the "Grade by Student" option.
  8. If you want to enter several grades for just one student, select the student name. The next screen will show you all grades for the selected student.

Guides and Tutorials

Evaluating Assignments

When students submit work to an Assignment folder, you can assess and provide feedback on that work in Assignment folder. There are several feedback options that allow you to tailor your feedback to student needs.

Best Practices

  1. Provide feedback in the text box.
  2. The text box works best for feedback that applies to the entire document a student submitted. For example, if a student is submitting a brief reflection, you may only need to provide a few sentences of written feedback. In this case, the best practice is to view and read the document in D2L and enter your feedback in the textbox.

  3. Provide audio feedback.
  4. Below the "Feedback" text box, there's a Record Audio button that allows you to record up to 60 seconds of you talking to your students. This feature is useful when you want students to hear the inflection in your voice to support the feedback you are providing.

  5. Provide comments within student documents.
  6. If you are grading a more substantive assignment, you may want to provide feedback to students within their texts (for example, using Microsoft Word's track changes and commenting tools). To do this, you'll need to download the student document, save it on your computer, provide feedback, and then upload the edited document using the Add a File button below the "Feedback" text box.

  7. Download all student documents.
  8. If you need to grade offline (while you're on a flight, perhaps), you can download all student documents at once. Because D2L saves the files with a particular naming convention, you can then re-upload the graded files back to the Assignment folder all at once.

    The caveat here is how you'll enter scores: if you use the rubric tool, or if you typically enter a grade in the Assignment folder, you'd still need to fill in that information for each student. One workflow is to keep one document on your computer with the grade information for each student (i.e., a classlist where you'll type in a score for each student as you read their document). That way, when you're back online, you can upload the students' work to D2L, and you'll have one handy reference document for entering their grades.

  9. Choose "Save Draft" or "Publish."
  10. Once you've provided feedback, you can publish it to students right away. Some faculty prefer to click Save Draft for all students until they're ready to publish the feedback for all at the same time.

  11. Use originality checking.
  12. D2L enables you to review your students’ submitted work to see if they have plagiarized. You can enable Originality Checking after students have submitted work, but you then need to select each individual submission to send it to Turnitin.

Guides and Tutorials

Grading Discussions

In online or blended classes, discussions can be a crucial way to scaffold learning and to develop collegiality with your students. The Discussion tool allows you to create whole-class or small-group discussions for your students.

Best Practices

  1. Grade a whole-class discussion.
  2. The benefit to connecting a discussion topic to a grade item is the grading screen. There, you can click on a link for each student to see all of that student's posts within the discussion. After reading the student's initial posts and replies, you can provide a grade and feedback that only the student can see.

  3. Grade a small-group discussion.
  4. Unfortunately, right now, the grading connection described above does not work well for small group discussions. Here's why: if you create a Discussion Forum for Week 1 and four small-group Discussion Topics within the Week 1 Forum, you're not able to then connect all four small-group Topics to a single Week 1 Discussion grade item.

    The workaround: When you're building the discussion topics, on the "Assessment" tab, enter a Score Out of Value, which allows the discussion to have the grading screen.

    You'll still be able to click the arrow next to the discussion > Assess Topic, but on the next screen with all of the students, you won't know which students are part of the particular group you're assessing (e.g., which students are in Group 1). Most faculty make a "cheat sheet" to show them which students are in each group.

    The last step is to open up the Grades tool in a new tab. Now, you'll be able to click the link to view each student's posts and provide feedback, but since the discussions aren't actually connected to a Grade Item, you'll need to manually enter the score in Grades.

Guides and Tutorials

Hands-on Practice: Grades & Assessment (Optional)

After reading through the topics in this unit, it's your turn to practice in your course. Keep in mind that no one will be evaluating the content of what you create in your course, and you can always revise these items later. The goal of the assignments in this course is only to ensure you’re comfortable using each tool.

To satisfy the requirements of this unit, complete the following task in your course: